The Best Washington Post article ever
September 8, 2012 1 Comment
So, Laurel and I began by submitting a “5 Myths” summary of our book to the Washington Post a few weeks ago. They liked it, but suggested we try submitting it as as “How Parenthood Became Political” essay, rather than as something as part of (my much beloved) 5 myths series. We slaved away, and slaved away, and went through more edits with the assistant Outlook editor than I can actually believe, but I’m now published in the Washington Post. It will actually run in tomorrow’s Outlook section. It’s just plain cool to get something in the 2nd most prestigious national newspaper, but for me it is especially cool as I grew up reading the Post every day, still read it every day on-line, and it’s the paper many of my friends and family back in NoVA read every day. I love that many people who know me, but aren’t on FB, are just going to stumble upon this and say, “OMG, it’s Steven!” Damn it, you better read the whole thing (its surprisingly long– much longer than a 5 myths would have been),but here’s how it starts:
It is at “the center of the public policy process,” Ronald Reagan asserted in his 1988 State of the Union address. It is “the foundation of American life,” Bill Clinton agreed in his 1996 address to Congress. It will “always be front and center” in President Obama’s agenda, the White House has declared.
What are they talking about: Democracy? National security? The economy? No. They’re talking about the family.
Odes to families — their values, their struggles to make ends meet, their efforts to protect their children — have been broadcast in nearly every political campaign in recent times. Mitt Romney, in his speech accepting the Republican nomination last month, made the promise “to help you and your family” his central message. Obama, in his convention speech, argued that this election will have a huge impact “on our children’s lives for decades.” And at both conventions combined, “families” was the fourth-most-mentioned word or phrase, right behind “jobs,” “Romney” and “Obama.”…
And for most of the 20th century, the American family was simply not on the political radar; its rise to prominence has been recent. In the 1952 campaign, for example, Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson rarely mentioned family or parents. Over the next several decades, the few times Republicans or Democrats mentioned “the family,” it was usually in reference to the plight of poor families, disadvantaged children or family farmers.
It was only when the traditional family structure began to unwind, starting in the 1970s — when divorce rates rose, mothers streamed into the workforce and more people began having kids outside marriage — that the parties began to politicize the family. These dramatic changes complicated the lives of many parents and were viewed as an assault on the American way of life, creating dissatisfied constituencies that both parties have furiously tried to court: parents, especially mothers, stressed out by trying to balance increased work and family responsibilities; and more-traditional voters who became deeply concerned about the decline of the conventional family.
Hooray for me. Hope you enjoy the piece.